Chicago Gourmet is the foodie event of the year. It falls perfectly at the start of Fall when the weather is agreeable and all you want to do is spend time outside. And what could be better than spending a day (or a whole weekend) surrounded by food from the city’s top chefs? This year, my go-to local beef brand, PRE Brands is teaming up with STK’s Chef Nicolas Cabrera to serve their beef at the event.
STK’s Chef Nicolas Cabrera moved to Chicago 10 months ago to open STK and he is excited to be participating in his first Chicago Gourmet. Last week I met with Chef Nicolas and dined at STK where I got a glimpse into the cuisine he will be serving at Chicago Gourmet. STK isn’t your typical steakhouse. They want the atmosphere to be fun. They got rid of the white tablecloths and added a deejay booth. It’s the place to celebrate with friends or to dine before hitting Hubbard Street.
While STK has a handful of locations worldwide, the menus have items unique to their chefs and locations. Chef Nicolas takes inspiration from both his love of Japanese cuisine and the hearty food Chicagoans love to eat. I got to sit down with Nicolas and talk about something that we both love: steak. When it comes to picking a steak, he says that marbling equals flavor. This is why I love PRE Brands 360 degree transparent view packaging – you can see the entire cut of meat and pick one that is marbled just the way you like it.
Chef Nicolas explained that great steak doesn’t need any complicated marinades or seasonings. Just give it some salt and pepper, all of the flavor you need will be in the meat. You can create a steakhouse experience at home by serving up top-notch side dishes. At STK we tried their 42-day dry-aged steak along with macaroni and cheese, brussels sprouts, sauteed mushrooms, and creamed corn. If you need a little guidance, here is my guide to preparing perfectly cooked steak using a grill pan. If you want to add a little something extra to your steak, Chef Nicolas recommends either sweet rich caramelized onions, or a touch of blue cheese which adds a nutty flavor to the meal.
One of STK’s most popular menu items is the sliders, so it isn’t surprising that Chef Nicolas is participating in the Hamburger Hop on Friday, in addition to the main event. At the Hamburger Hop, 16 chefs will be competing to create the best burger and after tasting the LIL’BRGS from STK, I think he has what it takes to win. These mini burgers are a signature item at STK and they are made with Wagyu Beef topped with special sauce and cheese on a sesame seed bun. On Friday you can expect him to be making his burgers with a mix of Wagyu and chuck served with shallots, garlic, provolone, and banana jam. He explained that he is using chuck beef because of its fat content. Burgers have to be juicy, and it is the fat content of the meat that gives meat it’s juiciness. When I am making burgers at home I use PRE Brands 85% lean, 15% fat ground beef to give the burgers extra flavor.
Then on Saturday Chef Nicolas will be at the PRE Brands booth serving up braised chuck roast that will be slow cooked for five hours with vegetables served with a glaze made of the stock served with jalapeño cheddar grits.
I love to cook with PRE Brands beef because it’s extra flavorful, affordable, available at my grocery store, and the product is consistently exceptional. I truly think that you can taste the difference. The consistency in the quality and size of the steaks makes them easier to cook too. I know that if I cook a PRE Brands strip steak for 4 minutes a side, it will come out a perfect medium rare every time. Since PRE Brands beef is leaner, it cooks faster than other steaks.
I have been working with PRE Brands for over a year now and I am a big fan of their product. You can find recipes using PRE Brands beef below. The beef is 100% grass fed with no added antibiotics or hormones, that has less fat and fewer calories than other beef you will find at the grocery store. Just like Chef Nicolas said, it has all the flavor you need, it just needs some salt and pepper.
Be sure to check out the PRE Brands booth at Chicago Gourmet this weekend. Chef Nicolas Cabrera will be there on Saturday from 12:30-3 serving up his Slow Braised Chuck Roast and Jalapeño Cheddar Grits. It is made with PRE Chuck Roast, which is one of PRE Brand’s new items. On Saturday, Tony Castillo from Longitud315, James Lintelmann from Baptise & Bottle, Joey Beato from Community Tavern, Mario Garcia from 720 South Bar & Grill, and Shaun King from The Dawson will also be cooking at the tent. On Sunday, Roger Waysok from South Water Kitchen, Shaun Connolly from Presidio, Ross Mendoza from Pump Room, Bjorn Rasmussen from Old Town Social, Matthew Wiltzius from Lockwood Restaurant and Bar, and Paul Caravelli from Knife & Tine will all be cooking. PRE Brand’s will be in tent P2 – I hope to see you there!
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